HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Pennsylvania DUI Association gathered to urge motorists to celebrate responsibly ahead of the Labor Day holiday.
"We want Pennsylvanians to celebrate the end of summer with a plan," said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. "If your celebration includes alcohol, plan ahead for a sober driver. Make plans with a friend, use a ride-share service, or public transportation, but never plan to drive impaired."
According to PennDOT data, in 2021 there were 945 crashes resulting in 12 fatalities statewide over the holiday weekend from Friday, Sept. 3, at 6 p.m. through Monday, Sept. 6. Of those, 106 crashes resulting in four fatalities were alcohol-related and 38 crashes resulting in three fatalities were drug-related.
During the Labor Day holiday enforcement period, PSP troopers made 587 DUI arrests and investigated 57 alcohol-related crashes. Troopers also investigated six fatal crashes with alcohol being a contributing factor in one of the fatalities.
"We urge travelers to slow down, buckle up, and use caution when traveling over the holiday weekend," said PSP Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick. "Troopers will actively enforce traffic and DUI laws, and we have a zero-tolerance approach toward driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs."
Over this holiday period, PSP and local municipal agencies will conduct impaired driving enforcement details as part of a national impaired driving enforcement and education initiative running through Sept. 5.
This effort is funded through PennDOT's state- wide annual distribution of more than $4.7 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for impaired driving enforcement.
Impaired driving enforcement goes beyond checking for alcohol impairment. Law enforcement also works to identify motorists impaired by illegal drugs and prescription medication or some combination of these.
Pennsylvania has approximately 250 Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) or specially trained officers who look for impaired drivers and assist in DUI investigations when drug-impaired driving is suspected.
The event featured a demonstration of the drug-detection field sobriety tests by PSP Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program Coordinator Corporal John Witkowski.
The event also featured the Pennsylvania DUI Association's Moving DUI Victims' Memorial. The association has a permanent DUI Victims' Memorial Garden located in front of their headquarters in Harrisburg, honoring and remembering Pennsylvanians who have been killed in impaired driving crashes.
The moving memorial showcases a 25-foot wall printed with all of the names of the DUI victims that have been honored in the garden but is housed in a 30-foot trailer that can travel and be shared with loved ones and advocates around the state.
The moving memorial is an integral part of the association's public information and education program and has had an impact on thousands of Pennsylvania drivers.
"We honor and remember the lives lost because someone chooses to drive impaired," said PA DUI Association Executive Director C. Stephen Erni.
"Labor Day weekend and every remaining day of the year, the message is clear: Do not drive impaired. Our collective goal is to end the suffering caused by an individual's choice to drive impaired," Erni said.
The agencies encourage motorists to ensure their safety and the safety of others on our roadways by designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation this Labor Day weekend, and every time they drink. The public can join the conversation on social media by using #BeSafePA and #DriveSober.
To learn more about PennDOT's efforts to prevent impaired driving or other safety initiatives, visit www.PennDOT.pa.gov/Safety.